The final section of upgrading on the PDR connecting Weipa to the south has been completed under the 2014 ALP federal budget allocation of $240 million.
The last budget did not include any more funds for new road construction this year, but minimal funding was provided to seal more of the notorious PDR over 10 years.
The Labor state government administers the funds and makes a partial contribution. Construction is carried out by the Main Roads Department or its works section, Roadtek.
Management by the state government has resulted in administration costs of more than 50 per cent for the road project. This unacceptable impost actually reduces the actual amount of bitumen sealing by half.
In other words if $240 million had been spent on bitumen laying, the entire dirt section between Laura and Weipa would have been sealed by the end of this year. However when half goes out to pay hordes of Brisbane bureaucrats, under-the-table deals with Aboriginal bodies, massive mismanagement of resources such as $1.5million to cart water from the Coen River to fill dry dams along the route after a poor wet season in 2018, only to see the water disappear through the bottom of the dams. Water is essential for compacting road substructures.
If the dams were capable of holding water there would have been water available but storages built on porous sand ridges don’t hold water for long.
Claims by Aboriginal bodies such as the Cape York Land Council for millions of dollars against the MRD should it construct the PDR off its original alignment to bypass deep gullies and sand ridges forced the MRD to follow the expensive, existing route.
The blackfellas held the state government to ransom, but in any case profited tens of millions by having sleepy murris sitting in air conditioned four wheel drives supposedly to watch for any cultural heritage ground disturbances caused by machinery made a mockery of Aboriginal heritage on a road which had been graded for more than 50 years.
This cosy deal cost taxpayers on average $1000 a day for the entire project.
Aboriginal employment and the establishment of indigenous earthmoving companies such as Bama, expressly to work on the road, dragged millions from the budget.
Then the MRD was forced to enter into an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with the CYLC which handed over ownership of the PDR and to ensure all future work was dominated by Aboriginal companies.
More than $14 million allocated in the original budget to construct a bridge over the Jardine River was redirected to shore up the Coen mess.
Already one major indigenous company which worked on the road has gone to the wall, leaving unpaid creditors scattered across the north.
While it is important to create as many indigenous jobs as possible, artificially creating positions and companies to make the PDR job a ‘good look’ for southern voters has not succeeded.
This is the state Labor Party in action motorists and remember to ask your local ALP MP why car registration costs are so high.
After all the MRD Minister Mark Bailey can’t drive a car.- contributed